Facebook moderators, tasked with watching horrific content, are demanding an end to NDAs that promote a 'culture of fear and excessive secrecy'

Facebook moderators, tasked with watching horrific content, are demanding an end to NDAs that promote a 'culture of fear and excessive secrecy'
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in Washington DC on Oct. 23, 2019. Andrew Harnik/AP
  • Facebook content moderators are calling for an end to NDAs, which prohibit them from talking about work.
  • Moderators are contractors tasked with sifting through violent content, like suicide and child abuse.
  • The moderators are also asking for better mental health support and full-time employee pay.

Content moderators for Facebook are urging the company to improve benefits and update non-disclosure agreements that they say promote" a culture of fear and excessive secrecy." The Verge first reported the news.

In a letter addressed to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg - as well as executives of contracting firms Covalen and Accenture - a group of moderators said "content moderation is at the core of Facebook's business model. It is crucial to the health and safety of the public square. And yet the company treats us unfairly and our work is unsafe."

Their demands are three-fold:

Complimentary Tech Event
Transform talent with learning that works
Capability development is critical for businesses who want to push the envelope of innovation.Discover how business leaders are strategizing around building talent capabilities and empowering employee transformation.Know More
  • Facebook must change the NDAs that prohibit them from speaking out about working conditions.
  • The company must provide improved mental health support, with better access to clinical psychiatrists and psychologists. As the letter reads: "it is not that the content can "sometimes be hard", as Facebook describes, the content is psychologically harmful. Imagine watching hours of violent content or children abuse online as part of your day-to-day work. You cannot be left unscathed."
  • Facebook must make all content moderators full-time employees and provide them with the pay and benefits that in-house workers are afforded.

Facebook did not immediately respond to Insider's request to comment. A company spokesperson told The Verge that moderators do have access to mental health care "when working with challenging content," and moderators in Ireland specifically have "24/7 on-site support."

Covalen and Accenture did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


Friday's letter comes as Facebook's content moderators have long decried the company's treatment of them, even as they're tasked with sifting through horrific content on its platforms. That content can include violent physical and sexual abuse, suicide, and other graphic visuals.

A moderator employed through Covalen, a Facebook contractor in Ireland, told the Irish Parliament in May that they're offered "wellness coaches" to cope, but it's not enough.

"These people mean well, but they're not doctors," the moderator, 26-year-old Isabella Plunkett, said in May. "They suggest karaoke or painting but you don't always feel like singing, frankly, after you've seen someone battered to bits."

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a company-wide meeting in 2019 that some of the content moderators' stories around coping with the work were "a little dramatic."